Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, on Monday begins a tour of five European countries that will mark his first trip abroad since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in January.
Yi, also a State Councillor, will travel to Germany, Italy, France, Norway and the Netherlands during his week-long visit.
Foreign Ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, said Yi would be warmly welcomed by the countries concerned, in spite of simmering international tensions.
Lijian said key goals of Yi’s whirlwind tour were to work with the EU to stabilise global supply chains and industrial production, safeguard multilateralism and improve global governance.
Relations between Europe and China have been frayed recently by the ongoing issues of Beijing’s persecution of the Uighur Muslim minority in far-Western Xinjiang and its crackdown on dissent in Hong Kong.
In response to Beijing’s imposition of a new national security law on Hong Kong in late June, both Germany and France suspended their extradition treaties with the former British colony.
However, the new law, which punishes subversion, secession and foreign collusion with sentences of up to life in prison as well as broadening the definition of terrorism which include protest tactics.
The law, however, was regarded by critics as an assault on the city’s prized freedoms and judicial independence.